48 hours in New Orleans, the jazz capital of the world

New Orleans hotspot. (Shutterstock)
Updated 04 October 2018

48 hours in New Orleans, the jazz capital of the world

  • New Orleans is a hidden gem that needs to be on everyone's travel bucket list
  • The city’s rich history is ever-evident within its narrow streets

DUBAI: New Orleans, the crown jewel of the southern United States, is a hidden gem that needs to be on of everyone’s travel bucket list. From grand cultural sites to mouth-watering food and vibrant nightlife, the city’s rich history is ever-evident within its narrow streets.
Starting off a day in the city with a hearty breakfast is pivotal if you are to survive the long walks and damp, humid weather. Make your way to Surrey’s Café and Juice Bar and indulge in a low-key, delicious breakfast. There’s no question about it, the shrimp and grits are a must-order for anyone who wants to try true southern creole cuisine. With your belly full and satisfied, take a much-needed walk through the old streets of the wonderful Garden district. With large, Victorian-esque townhouses lining the sidewalks, you’d think you were in the 1800s.




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Once your food’s fully digested, head to the city’s main street, Bourbon, and catch a ghost/voodoo walking tour along the French Quarter. The area’s walls and stones are filled with eerie tales that will make your skin crawl, so be sure to make this a priority — along with the requisite purchase of a souvenir shrunken head.
It goes without saying that NOLA’s beating heart is jazz music. Passionate, world-class performers can be found in numerous venues. Take a trip to Frenchman’s Street in the evening and watch the world come alive with mariachi beads, sax players and crooners headlining every stage. Maison on Frenchman is generally considered the top place to head to, while The Spotted Cat and Blue Nile are highly recommended as well.
But New Orleans history isn’t just one of great entertainment. There’s a much darker side too, from plantations to slave markets. Paying a visit to just one such site to remind yourself of the unbearable racism the African-American population faced is an eye-opener. We’d recommend Oak Alley Plantation, where the dirt road leading to the site is lined with gorgeous oak trees.
After taking in such a heavy history lesson on America’s not-so-distant past, the best way to lift your spirits is to indulge in the softest and fluffiest beignets at Café Du Monde. These powdered-sugar-covered pillows are addictive and well worth the long queue.




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For a feast you surely won’t forget, be sure to book in advance for traditional creole food at Antoine’s. Located in the French Quarter, this restaurant is one the country’s oldest, having been around since 1840. The venue itself offers another history lesson, with its time-capsule interior unchanged since its inception. The menu offers true high-end creole dishes, from Rockefeller oysters to grilled fish with Louisiana crawfish tails doused in a white sauce. The cuisine is an acquired taste, but definitely worth trying.
If you’re looking for a more modern, less divisive take on creole and seafood, Peche is a surefire winner. This restaurant offers taste bud-tickling gumbo and the most succulent, juicy, fried catfish north of the Mississippi river.
While 48 hours may seem barely long enough to get the true vibe of a city, it truly doesn’t take more than a couple of great po’boy sandwiches and late-night jazz sessions to appreciate the enormous potential of what New Orleans has to offer. 




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Virgin Galactic reveals futuristic outpost for space tourism

Updated 16 August 2019

Virgin Galactic reveals futuristic outpost for space tourism

  • Critics suggested the project was a boondoggle, but supporters argued that there were bound to be hard and sometimes costly lessons
  • The interior spaces unveiled Thursday aim to connect paying customers with every aspect of the operation

UPHAM, New Mexico: Spaceport America is no longer just a shiny shell of hope that space tourism would one day launch from this remote spot in the New Mexico desert.
The once-empty hangar that anchors the taxpayer-financed launch and landing facility has been transformed into a custom-tailored headquarters where Virgin Galactic will run its commercial flight operations.
Two levels within the spaceport include mission control, a preparation area for pilots and a lounge for paying customers and their friends and families, with each element of the fit and finish paying homage to either the desert landscape that surrounds the futuristic outpost or the promise of traveling to the edge of space.
From hotel rooms to aircraft cabins, the Virgin brand touts its designs for their focus on the customer experience. Spaceport is no different.
Earthen tones help ground visitors on the first floor. The social hub includes an interactive digital walkway and a coffee bar made of Italian marble. On the upper deck, shades of white and gray speak to Virgin Galactic’s more lofty mission.
Company officials, offering the first glimpse of the facility Thursday, say the space is meant to create “an unparalleled experience” as customers prepare for what Virgin Galactic describes as the journey of a lifetime.
Just how soon customers will file into Virgin Galactic’s newly outfitted digs for the first commercial flights has yet to be determined. A small number of test flights are still needed.
Billionaire Richard Branson, who is behind Virgin Galactic, and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, first pitched the plan for the spaceport nearly 15 years ago.
There were construction delays and cost overruns. Virgin Galactic’s spaceship development took far longer than expected and had a major setback when its first experimental craft broke apart during a 2014 test flight, killing the co-pilot.
Critics suggested the project was a boondoggle, but supporters argued that there were bound to be hard and sometimes costly lessons.
Democratic state Sen. George Munoz has enduring concerns about the business model for commercial, low-orbit travel for passengers.
“You can have all the money in the world and come back and say, ‘Was my 30 seconds of fame worth that risk?’” he said.
Munoz says New Mexico’s anticipated return on investment in terms of jobs and visitors is still overdue, with more than $200 million public funds spent on Spaceport America in cooperation with Virgin Galactic as anchor tenant.
At the facility Thursday, the carrier plane for Virgin’s rocket-powered passenger ship made a few passes and touch-and-goes over a runway.
Behind the spaceport’s signature wall of curved glass, mission control sits on the second floor with an unobstructed view of the runway and beyond.
There’s also space behind two massive sliding doors to accommodate two of Virgin Galactic’s carrier planes and a fleet of six-passenger rocket ships.
Virgin Galactic posted on social media earlier this week that its carrier plane had landed in New Mexico and its main operating base was now at the spaceport. And Branson said the wing of Virgin’s next rocket ship has been completed.
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said once the test flights are complete, commercial operations can begin.
Chief Pilot Dave Mackay said the crew in the coming days will fly simulated launch missions to ensure in-flight communications and airspace coordination work as planned. The pilots also will be familiarizing themselves with New Mexico’s airspace and landmarks.
“New Mexico is on track to become one of the very few places on this beautiful planet which regularly launches humans to space,” Mackay said.
Branson will be among them. About 600 people have reserved a seat, according to the company, at a cost of $250,000 a ticket.
That buys them a ride on the winged rocket ship, which is dropped in flight from the carrier airplane. Once free, it fires its rocket motor to hurtle toward the boundary of space before gliding back down.
The latest test flight reached an altitude of 56 miles (90 kilometers) while traveling at three times the speed of sound.